Our yards need so much care and attention at this time of year, that there never seems to be enough hours in the day. We need to make sure we keep up with mowing the lawn as well as trimming the hedges so that everything looks presentable when we host with one of the best grills.
There’s nothing wrong with spending time in your backyard — our lawns need it to stay in tip-top shape. But, have you considered how your neighbors may view your activities?
Depending on when you perform some of these chores, and how you spend time in your yard, you might be frustrating those around you. Every household will live under different circumstances and some might not work well with your schedule, particularly if there’s young children under the roof. So, have you considered how your habits might be impacting your neighbors? Here, we’ve rounded up 5 backyard habits which neighbors can find a nuisance, so you can make the necessary changes for a better relationship moving forward.
1. Mowing the lawn at antisocial hours
We love to care for our lawns and it’s no bad thing to cut the grass. This keeps it healthy and encourages thicker growth — so long as you don’t cut more than a third away at a time. Generally speaking, mid-morning (around 10am) is the best time to get out the lawn mower. The dew has evaporated and you’re avoiding the full afternoon sun which could cause additional damage.
However, with our lives being as busy as they are, some of us will bring out the lawn mower a little earlier than this. This is a habit to avoid if you want to stay on your neighbor’s good side — early morning mowing is not a pleasant thing to wake up to. It’s also not as good for your lawn because morning dew will likely still be present, which can cause damage to your grass as well as your mower when you cut.
Alternatively, some may prefer to cut the lawn once they return from work in the early evening. Again, be considerate of your neighbors. Jeff Parsons, Tom’s Guide UK Editor in Chief, experienced this for himself, and with a 3-year-old under the roof said:
“As someone with a particularly noisy neighbor, I can only plead with the homeowners of the world to be mindful of those around you. Despite this particular bloke living a few houses down, I can still hear him clear as day at 7 or 8pm in the evening when he inexplicably chooses to mow his gargantuan lawn. Just what you need when you're trying to get the kid down for the night. Not content with a day full of construction noise, he's seemingly quite happy to disturb the rest of the street from enjoying their evening in peace. Don't be that guy."
It’s no good thing for your lawn either, because with the incoming dew of the evening, you’re encouraging fungus and disease. So do your lawn and your neighbors a favor and wait to mow at the right time.
2. Hosting BBQs late into the evening
With the sun out and temperatures scorching, it’s ideal BBQ weather at last. Time to get out the best grills and prep it for the summer. And while such an event can bring neighbors together, bear in mind that it can drive them apart too, particularly if it runs late into the night.
It’s all too easy to lose track of the time when you’re hosting a cookup, and a time which may not seem too late for you can be viewed differently by your neighbors. For instance, young kids are often put to bed between 7-8pm, as mentioned in the point above. Even where kids aren’t involved, chatting and laughing into the night can easily keep others awake.
When you plan to host a BBQ, make neighbors aware of it in advance so they can make arrangements if necessary. For instance, young kids may be better off staying around relatives' houses. Smoke and the smell of grilled food will also be abundant, so neighbors can avoid hanging laundry out to dry on such a day.
It also helps to have specific timings for the event, so neighbors know when the noise will stop. Once time is up, be sure to call it a day, or bring the remaining guests inside. Try to invite your neighbors along for a BBQ once in a while too!
3. Bonfires, campfires and fire pits
There’s nothing quite so comforting or as social as a campfire. And with the warm temperatures outside, it’s all too tempting to take a seat and start roasting s'mores. The trouble is, even if you’ve got one of the best fire pits, this can be a real hindrance for neighbors. Campfires, firepits and bonfires can each cause a lot of excess smoke which can create airborne pollution in your neighborhood.
It can be smelled from far and wide and can impact your neighbors yards and homes. For instance, any laundry which is drying outside can quickly carry the smell. Add to that, should it seep into homes, the best air purifiers will have to work extra hard to remove the residual smoke. Should neighbors struggle with asthma or respiratory issues, this could be a harmful as well as frustrating habit.
Burning yard waste can cause similar frustrations too. According to Cynthia Lawrence, Tom’s Guide’s Homes Editor, “My neighbor a couple of doors away, has a habit of burning garden waste in the evenings. This means that we have to close our windows since the strong smoke gets into our house. Also, we can't enjoy sitting in our garden at these times."
There are steps you can take to reduce the impact of recreational fires. First of all, consider the wind direction — ideally you want any smoke to be blown away from the households. You could also consider investing in a smokeless fire pit. These will burn more completely and produce less smoke in the process. Make sure any wood you burn is thoroughly dry too; this means it will smoke less. Finally, consider the placement of your fire — if it can be safely positioned further away from your neighbors, then that’s all the better.
Depending on where you live, there could be rules and restrictions regarding the use of recreational fires and burning yard waste around neighbors. Be sure to check your local municipality and authorities so you’re clear on what’s allowed.
4. Direct spotlights
It’s always a good idea to strategically place some of the best solar lights around your yard. These can add to the aesthetics as well as guide you along the pathway safely at night. Another major purpose for these lights is security. Should any unwanted visitors near your property, be it burglars or racoons, a single spotlight with motion sensors can put them off and alert you to their presence.
While this is an effective method, you should always keep in mind how it may affect your neighbors too. If a spotlight is particularly bright and powerful and directed towards your neighbors windows, it can disturb them through the night. Unless they’ve got some of the best blackout curtains, the light can reflect into bedrooms, disturbing young children and adults alike.
Let your neighbor know your intentions before you install your spotlights, and be considerate when it comes to placement and direction. If you opt for a design with motion sensors, make sure it’s not overly sensitive as well, to minimize disturbances at night — we considered this when testing the best solar lights. Don’t opt for more brightness or lights than necessary. Once your spotlights are in, wait until the sun goes down and then test them out to make sure your neighbors are happy with the change.
5. Loud dogs
Finally, we all love our pets, but your neighbors may have different feelings for your pooch. Dogs can get very noisy when left to themselves. They can bark intermittently throughout the day, as well as howl through the night. While you might find such traits cute, others will see them as disturbing, so this is something you need to address.
According to the Humane Society, you can reduce a dog’s barking with a little attention: “Whether you've just adopted a new adult dog or it’s your first week with a new puppy, keeping your dog busy and exercised will help reduce barking and prevent them from practicing it.” Tips include tiring your dog out, removing the motivation to bark and hiring a professional trainer.
Watch out for your dog’s other habits as well. If it often finds its way into your neighbor’s plants, or takes a poop on their lawn, they won’t thank you for it. Keep a close eye on your pooch and make sure he remains man’s best friend. Bear in mind, it's against the law in some municipalities for pets to be off the leash as well.